Friday, March 25, 2016

The World You Write In - Guest post by R. Michael Phillips - Between Good & Evil blog tour

By: R. Michael Phillips
Genres: Crime - Mystery
Publisher: Sunbury Press, Inc. 
Publication date: 24 January, 2016
ISBN-13 for hardcover: 978-1620066607
ISBN-13 for paperback: 978-1620067291




Years after the Willis Asylum closed, the secrets of its past lingered in its decaying halls as a reminder to the good people of Auburn Notch—when Evil closes a door, he also opens a window. Sheriff Promise Flynn was new to the town, and she was about to find out some windows should never be opened.
Promise Flynn is an overly impulsive Metro Detective whose disregard for procedure finally resulted in her being shot and left for dead during an investigation. To repair her bruised ego and splintered confidence she abandons the callous dark alleys of Chicago to patrol the quiet, birch-lined streets of Auburn Notch—a favorite vacation spot of her youth. For two years everything was idyllic, until the body of a young girl found in the abandoned asylum outside of town awakens the insecurities she thought her new life would insulate her from.
As the new Sheriff she begins her investigation refusing to accept the similarities between the young woman’s death and her own case, oblivious to being unexpectedly recognized and penciled in at the top of a clever murderer’s To-Do list. Her internal struggle intensifies when a discredited crime reporter from the past suspiciously arrives in town to resurrect his threadbare reputation, along with an FBI agent chasing down a lead in a cold case. Both men quickly become entangled in Flynn's investigation and her attempts to finally put her past to rest.
Flynn reluctantly accepts the murder of the young girl might be the work of the two men responsible for her hasty departure from Chicago, but Agent MacGregor insists the evidence points to a man he’s been chasing. As the rising current of her past threatens to pull her under, Flynn finds herself unprepared for option three.

The World You Write In
By: R. Michael Phillips
Author of Between Good and Evil

It may sound easy, but it takes a good deal of imagination to create the world characters in a contemporary mystery novel live in. Your plot, characters, conflicts, etc. are going to take up most of your gray cells, so when you start creating your environment I’ve found it best to stay as close to a real place as possible and get the details down on paper. You allow your memory to do the bulk of the work, while your imagination fills in the details.
Between Good And Evil is the first book in a new mystery series set in a small New England town. When I decided to start the new series I went through the usual steps to create a strong protagonist, antagonist, and an assortment of secondary and tertiary characters. All this is accomplished with character mapping. This is an interesting topic for discussion also, but I’ll leave that one for another post. What I will tell you is, you can use the same formula for mapping the characteristics of the town in your novel.
 Auburn Notch is the name I chose for the town in the new series. It’s a town I made up, but based on my memories of a couple small New Hampshire towns I spent a good deal of my youth in. The memories are as fresh in my mind as they were years ago, and I took creative license where needed to fill in the rest. As a result, I describe the town this way in the book:
As small New England towns go, Auburn Notch could certainly be the picture below the word “quaint” in the dictionary. It’s a rural New Hampshire community, quietly nestled equidistant from the base of the White Mountains, the Atlantic coast and every shop not specializing in flannel. It’s the type of town you would see featured in the travel section of the Sunday paper laying in a neat pile on a wicker table on the front porch of your favorite aunt’s house. It’s the type of town Time pats thoughtfully on the head as it passes by, promising to return some day with marvelous stories of the future world. But mostly, it’s the type of town mentioned in articles about maple syrup and snowy tree lines—but never in the same article with murder. They always seem to leave those articles out of the travel section.
A large portion of the 1,586 households lie across from each other on thin, birch-lined roads dissecting Collier Avenue, the main thoroughfare through town, like a fish skeleton; the largest concentration being behind the gills—that area of town surrounding Town Hall. The remaining homes can be found along the two meandering roads at the edge of town; Maple Way, leading out to Route 16, and Lakeview Drive, circling Lake Auburn. A fortunate few—families well established in town through generations—have primary or secondary homes on the east side of the lake, accessible by private drives off the main road. Auburn Notch is just a sleepy New England town where 2015 looks remarkably like 1955, which looked remarkably like 1915, and that’s just the way they like it.

It’s a brief description, but it is enough to set the mood of the town my characters live in. As the book progressed, I added in additional descriptions, citizens, and town officials. Even though I made this town up, it still needs everything a real town has. From here, and with a little help from Adobe illustrator, I take all this information and make a digital map of the town. I indicate the mountains, the lake, main roads, etc. As I write the book I’ll add in important landmarks (real and imagined), incidents, and roads. It may sound a bit anal, but because this book is part of a series this mapping is extremely helpful to me as each new book comes along. You certainly don’t want to call the main road through town Collier Avenue in one book and Maple Street in the next. I can’t tell you how much I referred back to this map as I was writing the second book. As time goes on, you develop an entire town, with shops, homes, recreation areas, everything a town map would have. That takes care of a fictional town.
Then there is using a real city in a book. It’s done all the time, and really helps to establish the story. Using a familiar town diminishes the need to go into any detail about the particulars; the reader will already have a preconceived notion of the basics. In my Ernie Bisquets Mysteries I use contemporary London as the setting. I’ve spent a great deal of time there, so I know the city pretty well. I like accuracy in my books. I think it’s important. I work off a street map of London when I’m writing those mysteries. Some of the street names are changed where needed, additional shops or buildings are added/taken away, or a fictitious event is developed for the plot, but I try to stay true to the basic layout of London as much as possible. It’s such an incredible city with a remarkable history. It really becomes a character in itself when portrayed right.
Whether you make up the town, use a common city, or some combination of both, it’s still located in a work of fiction and is the product of the author’s imagination. Writing a book is both tough and rewarding, and creating a town from scratch is one of the more enjoyable aspects of the task.

Note from Mike to Nadaness In Motion and Readers:
Thanks so much for inviting me to your site. It’s been a delight to be here and I’m thrilled being able to share a few of my thoughts about the writing process with your readers.


As part of the tour with Lori Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours, there is a giveaway that you can enter below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Keep up with the rest of the tour here.


RMP_Profile_RGB_2016Michael is a classically trained artist turned mystery writer. By combining his creative talents with a passion for mysteries he conceived his first series—The Ernie Bisquets Mysteries. It introduced Ernie Bisquets, a retired London pickpocket who decided he was going to assist the London police with their most difficult cases—whether they want his help or not. Michael has completed 3 books in the series, and has plans for at least five additional books.
Michael travels a bit, especially to Great Britain, but also has a fondness for New England. He spent many winters in the shadow of the White Mountains, skiing and enjoying the beautiful countryside. Those fond memories are the backdrop now for the new Auburn Notch Mysteries being published by Sunbury Press. The main character is Sheriff Promise Flynn—an ex-metro detective who left a dark past and her big-city detective shield behind and moved to a small New England town. What follows is anything but therapeutic.
When he’s not painting or writing Michael is an avid antique collector, filling his current home—an 1894 Queen Ann Victorian he, his wife, and son are restoring—with an assortment of antiques from around the world. Michael also enjoys cooking, working in the garden, and playing in the yard with their two rescues, Beau and Pup.

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1 comment:

  1. I enjoyed reading your articles. This is truly a great read for me. I have bookmarked it and I am looking forward to reading new articles.

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